Early chronicles depicted reformers as idealistic

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Early chronicles depicted reformers as idealistic, altruistic crusaders intent on improving American society. After World War II, however, some historians suspected selfish and conservative motives of these reformers. This view describes reformers as anxious, upper-class people who feared the ferment of life in pre-Civil War America. Reforms were a way for these people to assert “social control.” Historians argued that reforms gave upper classes the power to control lower classes and create a world of their own.In the 1960s, however, more reform movements forced a reevaluation of this view, and historians beganto admire the efforts of reformers, especially females.The abolition movement is one that shows the fluctuation of reformers’ reputations with historians. In the late 19thcentury, northern historians hailed abolitionists as heroes. However, in the mid-twentieth century, a view came about that favored the South. It said that the Civil war was caused by the fanaticism of the abolitionists. In the 1960s, historians turned back to the sympathetic view of the abolition movement. Scholars of the women’s rights movement have reconsidered their reform activity. It has been known that women played key roles in charities, but historians like Nancy Cott have looked more closely at “the bonds of womanhood.” This idea showed the links between women’s domestic lives and their public good will behavior. In further studies, it was found that women believed it was their duty and right to leave their homes and work to reform the immoral ways of men. More recent studies refute the claim that all women had the same identity and cause. They looked at theclass differences between women, resulting in tensions and a shift from moral uplift to social control.In the women’s suffrage movement, historians have been looking at the factor of race. Historians have discovered that the women’s movement was allied with the abolitionist movement, but broke away in order to have better luck with their own movement which was less controversial.It is clear that historians have to deal with the issues of class, gender and race when analyzing reformers and reform movements, as these things divided reformers in a time when American society was focused on improvement in the early 19thcentury.Chapter 16: The South and the Slavery ControversyIntroduction
In the early years of the Republic, slavery was a subject that was met with uncertainty. Many thought that the practice would die out with the evolving logics of economics.However, Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, invented in 1793, demanded a huge labor force. Cotton became the dominant crop in the South, and this entrenchment in slavery threatened the nation’s survival.

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